Creative Writing: Poems To Inspire: The Tao Te Ching

From Tao Te Ching (The Tao).tao
Before the universe is born
something formless and perfect exists.
Serene. Empty.
Solitary. Unchanging.
Infinite. Eternally present.
Unnamed and unnameable.
It is the Mother of the universe.
For want of a better name,
I call it the Tao.
I call it great.
Great meaning boundless.
Boundless is eternally flowing.
Ever flowing, it is constantly returning.
And so the Way is great,
heaven is great,
earth is great,
are great.
Thus: to know humanity,
understand earth.
To know earth,
understand heaven.
To know heaven,
understand the Way.
To know the Way,
the great Mother

Notes on The Great Tao, The Great Mother

Note 1: This is my interpretation of the 25th, central, teaching of the Tao Te Ching, relying on the wonderful scholarship of others, particularly my two favorite texts, Stephen Mitchell's and Jonathan Starr's The Definitive Edition  (Though shame about this title. I agree that we need a word to distinguish an excellent text like this from more casual readings but there's no such thing as the “definitive” edition of anything. And most certainly not of writing as distant in time and place, and as deliberately ambiguous, as the verses of The Tao.)

Note 2: The Tao is not a named thing, like other objects in our world. It's the underlying order of the Universe, the essence of which is hard to describe, because it's essentially non-conceptual. We know it exists through our experience of the inner energy we label “spiritual” and “artistic”. The Tao puts this so beautifully, in verse one (again, my interpretation):

The Tao that can be told
is not the Tao.
The name that can be named
is not the eternal.
Naming is the origin of things.
The unnameable is the essence
holding thing and nothing
eternally real.
Free from particular desires
for particular things,
you know them
and the unnamed.
Caught in desire,
you know only the things.
Yet nothing and thing
arise together
from the unnamed.
The font is the opening
from nothing to thing
from desire to understanding
to the owning of all.

The Great Tao, The Great Mother

This way of thinking underlies the Go Creative book series, The Creativist Club and the concept of creativism. Which is why I'm putting my Go Creative logo up there with the beautiful yin-yang symbol, and why I use this swirled symbol also as the logo for my publishing imprint, Font Publications.

And why it's called Font Publications in the first place.

Final Note: Manly boys, please note that you too have this mother of mothers within.

Orna Ross


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